Following fine-level assessments by professional ecologists, City Forests has designated two category 1 High Conservation Value areas (FSC® category: HCV 1); Wangaloa Creek Wetland in our Tokoiti Forest, and sections of Shepherd Stream in our Waipori Forest that provide habitat area to the 'Nationally Endangered' fresh water fish Eldon's galaxias. This HCV 1 ranking creates a special status for these areas and put greater onus on us to manage and protect them.
High Conservation Value Areas
Wangaloa Creek Wetland
The Wangaloa Creek wetland in the Tokomairiro Ecological District is a large (24.9 ha) wetland site that occupies a broad valley floor in the mid-reaches of Wangaloa Creek. The wetland site is L-shaped, approximately 1.5 km long and is well linked to other valley floor wetlands in the area. The Flax swamp and copper tussock vegetation is uncommon within the Tokomairiro Ecological District and accurately represents the original 1840 vegetation cover.
The wetland is still relatively intact likely due to the protection provided by the surrounding forests. 13.6 ha of the Wangaloa wetland is ‘Acutely Threatened’ due to <10% of the original indigenous vegetation cover remaining and 11.3 ha is ‘Chronically Threatened’ due to 10-20% of the original indigenous vegetation cover remaining. Four different habitat types and three wetland classes have been identified in the area allowing for a diverse range of flora and fauna to thrive. City Forests conducts annual environmental monitoring of the Wangaloa wetland, with external expert consultations also carried out periodically.
City Forests annual monitoring programme observes the area for wilding trees from the surrounding forest, and checks for incursions of noxious weeds such as gorse and broom. Any obvious signs of vegetation disease are recorded and investigated. Detrimental effects from animal browsing are a possibility and are also noted. Water quality is sampled using the approved SHMAK rating system
The last monitoring visits were in March and July 2019. While there are some pines growing in dry patches in the wetlands these are not spreading, and in fact the surrounding plantation forest is providing remarkable protection to the wetland from weed incursion and animal browsing. There are also some small areas of woody weeds growing along the edges of the wetland in some places. However, difficult access means that removing the pines and weeds at this time will create too much disturbance. We plan to tidy these issues up following the harvest of the surrounding forest. The water quality was also sampled and is of pristine quality, there are no concerns about the condition of the wetland vegetation which is in outstanding condition.
Eldon’s galaxias, Galaxias eldoni (ranked “Nationally Endangered” by DOC) were first discovered in Shepherd Stream, Waipori Forest in 1990. Due to this conservation ranking City Forests classifies suitable habitat areas of Shepherds Stream as High Conservation Value (HCV). Incursions of Brown Trout, Salmo trutta; have occurred due to past flooding events and threaten the existing and future populations of Eldon’s galaxias in Shepherd Stream. City Forests currently has a long-term, on-going project with the goal of removing trout from isolated tributaries in the upper part of Shepherd Stream to create pockets of suitable habitat for Eldon’s galaxias. These sections of the stream will be separated by fish barriers such as natural waterfalls or raised culverts that restrict trout migration to the protected areas.
City Forests on-going projest is supported by a professional fresh water ecologist which allows for electric fishing as a way of determining the presence of fish species. Once trout free areas of the stream are established it is also possible to gain resource consent to reintroduce Eldon’s galaxias into areas of Shepherd Stream to increase population numbers. The forest area that surrounds Shepherd Stream is currently young trees; as the trees grow, they will provide shelter to the stream for next 20-30 years without any risk from forest harvesting activities.
City Forests annual monitoring of Shepherd Stream will consist of photo points established in at risk areas, such as barriers to fish entry, to directly monitor any changes. UAV flights will allow monitoring of difficult to access areas and provide a different monitoring perspective. Water monitoring of Shepherd Stream will be carried out annually until the surrounding forest matures. Professional fresh water fish assessments will be done throughout the project to track the effectiveness and understand any changes that may need to be made. Removing woody debris from the protected areas of Shepherd Stream reduces the potential for damage to the existing fish barriers and allows for easier electric fishing. This ongoing monitoring will ensure Shepherd Stream remains in the same condition or better for future years, with the hope of sustaining populations of Eldon’s galaxias.
City Forests invites feedback on our HCV areas at any time through our website and also extends an invitation to anybody who would like the opportunity to visit the sites.